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PIWorld is providing an open mike for members of the graphic arts community, along with our own staff people at times, to take a stand, share an observation or just relay an item of interest.

We will be coming up with our own choices of people to invite to be "Who's Up Next," but interested parties are also encouraged to email a topic and short description of a post (text, video or audio) they would like to submit for consideration to

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Why Software is More Important than Ever for Printers

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Software touches virtually every person in the print shop, from customer service to the pressroom.  It is not just a purchase of a license and an annual maintenance fee or a service subscription; it’s a business investment that needs to be aligned with people and processes to be implemented and utilized effectively.

Software usage in the printing industry has gone through numerous cycles of transition over the past 30 years. We’re all familiar with the timeline—desktop publishing revolution in the 1980s; the transition to workflow-driven, computer-to-film then computer-to-plate in the 1990s; and Web enablement in the early 2000s that continues to grow today. Over this time span, printers have had to keep up with a brisk pace of software innovation and, for the most part, they have adapted well.

Even though firms have gone through a period of widespread software adoption and witnessed how software can be a key business enabler, I still find that software isn’t taken seriously enough by some printers. Maybe that’s due to past experience. Some companies that built their heritage in our industry made questionable decisions that left a bad taste throughout the print constituency. Moreover, I hear about how companies are on their second, third or even fourth Web-to-print product, having to maintain customers on each platform.

These types of experiences with software are obviously frustrating to printers, many of which have more distressing matters to deal with, like keeping the presses running and the doors open.

Nevertheless, printers need to proactively make an effort to get a handle on understanding software technology and the impact it can make. There is a huge promise for success when technology is applied appropriately. The common thread I see among printers I’ve talked with that have continued to see growth and success in the industry—even through tough economic times—is smart investment and application of software in their businesses.

Typically these companies have a go-to person; a manager or executive whose primary purpose is to stay on top of software and hardware technology trends. Chief Technology Officer, VP of Technology, and Director of Information Technology are common titles found at successful, technology-driven printing companies.

However, understanding technology doesn’t stop at the executive level. Printers need to foster a company-wide culture of technology acceptance, understanding and innovation. Software touches virtually every person in the print shop, from customer service to the pressroom.

At the end of 2009, InfoTrends conducted a study of printers’ software investments  and found that some of the top areas where respondents needed assistance included:

• understanding new technology (41%), • workflow automation & integration (33%), and • software (33%).

These findings back up the notion that printers clearly need to take a proactive approach to software and technology in their businesses.

Software is here to stay, and it is only going to get more powerful over time. If you haven’t already, start understanding how to harness that power to improve your processes...and maybe even grow your business!


There are more resources than ever available for printers that want to fully take advantage of the power that software offers.

Through, InfoTrends offers its Ultimate Guide Online, a powerful tool that enables printers to investigate and compare details of Web-to-print, variable data and multi-channel communications software solutions in the market. We offer two levels of access to fit printers’ needs. You can sign up free for an account and get access to a high level of information on each software and hardware product category we cover.

When you’re making important software investment decisions, Premium Access can be used to access a much deeper level of information on these products. $59.95 gets you 30 days of access to information like pricing, training and granular functionality, as well as value-added analysis from InfoTrends analysts.

We developed to the guides to offer printers an easy-to-use reference tool to help in the decision-making process that will have an impact on their business for years to come. Check out the guides and let us know you what you think. Send your feedback to

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